Orders, Decorations, Medals and Militaria (12 November 2020)

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Date of Auction: 12th November 2020

Sold for £950

Estimate: £800 - £1,200

A Hancocks & Co. fitted leather Victoria Cross case signed by Edward Kenna V.C., and a mounted group of eight miniature dress medals worn by him

Original Case of Issue for a Victoria Cross, the inner lid of the brown leather and gilt-tooled, hinged case inscribed ‘By appointment to the late King George V. Hancocks & Co. (Jewellers) Ltd., 9 Vigo Street, London W1’ and also signed in black ink ‘Edward Kenna V.C.’, minor scuff marks to leather, internal wear, good condition; together with a miniature medal group comprising Victoria Cross; 1939-45 Star; Pacific Star; Defence and War Medals 1939-45; Australia Service Medal; Coronation 1953; Jubilee 1977, these court mounted and of modern manufacture; with an Edward Kenna commemorative card, signed ‘To Mathew with regards, Edward Kenna V.C.’ and a photograph of Kenna seated behind the desk at Cary Corporation, signed ‘Edward Kenna V.C.’, extremely fine (8) £800-£1,200

Footnote

V.C. London Gazette 6 September 1945:
‘In the South West Pacific at Wewak on 15th May, 1945, during the attack on the Wirui Mission features, Private Kenna's company had the task of capturing certain enemy positions. The only position from which observation for supporting fire could be obtained was continuously swept by enemy heavy machine gun fire and it was not possible to bring Artillery or Mortars into action.
Private Kenna's platoon was ordered forward to deal with the enemy machine gun post, so that the company operation could proceed. His section moved as close as possible to the bunker in order to harass any enemy seen, so that the remainder of the platoon could attack from the flank. When the attacking sections came into view of the enemy they were immediately engaged at very close range by heavy automatic fire from a position not previously disclosed. Casualties were suffered and the attackers could not move further forward.
Private Kenna endeavoured to put his Bren gun into a position where he could engage the bunker, but was unable to do so because of the nature of the ground. On his own initiative and without orders Private Kenna immediately stood up in full view of the enemy less than fifty yards away and engaged the bunker, firing his Bren gun from the hip. The enemy machine gun immediately returned Private Kenna's fire and with such accuracy that bullets actually passed between his arms and his body. Undeterred, he remained completely exposed and continued to fire at the enemy until his magazine was exhausted. Still making a target of himself, Private Kenna discarded his Bren gun and called for a rifle. Despite the intense machine gun fire, he seized the rifle and, with amazing coolness, killed the gunner with his first round.
A second automatic opened fire on Private Kenna from a different position and another of the enemy immediately tried to move into position behind the first machine gun, but Private Kenna remained standing and killed him with his next round.
The result of Private Kenna's magnificent bravery in the face of concentrated fire, was that the bunker was captured without further loss, and the company attack proceeded to a successful conclusion, many enemy being killed and numerous automatic weapons captured.
There is no doubt that the success of the company attack would have been seriously endangered and many casualties sustained but for Private Kenna's magnificent courage and complete disregard for his own safety. His action was an outstanding example of the highest degree of bravery.’


Edward Kenna was born in 1919 at Hamilton, Victoria. He volunteered for service in the 2nd Australian Imperial Force in June 1942, was assigned to the 2/4th Battalion and embarked for New Guinea in October 1944. On 15 May 1945, Kenna was involved in an action near Wewak, New Guinea, during which he exposed himself to heavy fire, killing a Japanese machine gun crew and making it possible for his company's attack to succeed. For this he was awarded the Victoria Cross. Three weeks later he was shot in the mouth and spent more than a year in hospital before being discharged from the AIF in December 1946. He was invested with his Victoria Cross by the Governor General of Australia, The Duke of Gloucester, in Melbourne, on 6 January 1947. The last surviving Australian recipient of the Victoria Cross of the Second World War, ‘Ted’ Kenna V.C. died in Geeling, Victoria in 2009, after which a state funeral was held in St Patrick's Cathedral, East Melbourne.

Note: This lot is available for viewing in Swanbourne, Western Australia, by appointment with our Australasian representative, John Burridge.